INTERVIEW: ROB DRUMMER TALKS BOUNDLESS THEATRE
Boundless Theatre supports a community of young adults to be creative, with productions, projects and diverse experiences that promote meaningful social engagement around culture.
Boundless Theatre has announced a big shake up of its leadership structure and programme of work alongside exciting plans for the year ahead, following the confirmation of Arts Council England NPO funding, the vision for the organisation is to cultivate a new approach to sustain change within the industry for 15-25 year olds.
The new plans for the company are;
That they will appoint four new co-leaders to job share Artistic Director/CEO and Executive Director roles over the next two years. Boundless Boxes will travel across the UK over the next three years, starting this summer in Leicester, Croydon and Lambeth. Boundless Boxes, developed with architects U-Build will be requested, constructed and directly programmed by 15-25 year olds. Plus a major new partnership, Boundless Theatre and Guildhall School of Music & Drama are working in association with the Museum of Youth Culture, looking for the next new epic play.
Recently I got a chance to speak to Rob Drummer who is the Artistic Director of Boundless - to ask more about the boundless new initiatives and why they are so important.
What is Boundless Theatre?
Boundless is a theatre company making work for 15-25 year olds across the UK and further afield. Through our productions, artist development programmes and other projects we’re always looking for new ways to connect young adults to theatre. Founded in 2001, Boundless has been making groundbreaking work for 22 years and uses co-creation with teenagers and young adults to make sure all of our work is ambitious, bold and connecting with our community. We want to see more young people leading culture and shaping the future of theatre right now.
What are the aspirations & goals you want to achieve through Boundless, and who would you hope would benefit from the organisation?
My goal is to ensure more young adults get to see theatre as a valuable tool and that our audiences, artists and wider community have access to high quality creative and cultural experiences. I believe theatre can be a powerful tool, a way to develop communication skills, creative thinking skills, leadership skills and of course aid the development of empathy. Theatre can also be exclusive, alienating and not representative of youth culture. So in some ways Boundless exists to change that – to make sure that any teenager or young adult can
be part of a diverse and creative community.
What do you think the new co-leadership roles will mean for the wider creative community? How do you think they will react to this?
The response has already been amazing, we’ve had a great response from other organisations, offers of mentoring and requests to join us in this learning experience. I really hope that we can demonstrate how easy it is to welcome young people into leadership roles, whether shared or not and that the transformative impact on a business is valuable. We’ve got a lot to learn but I’m feeling positive that this is going to be a great experience for us and other organisations who follow along.
What are the opportunities for those wanting to be involved in Boundless Theatre?
If you’re interested in theatre and starting out I would direct you to the Boundless Drama Club in the first instance (just type in boundlessdrama.club to your browser and have a look around). This is a free membership community for 15-25 year olds and there’s loads of resources, interviews, practical creative support and sometimes funding for young creatives.
What would you like to see from applicants?
I am really hoping that we see our future leaders applying, I want to see passion for change but really I just want to see people applying who are desperate to lead and to learn.
How important is this new co-leadership initiative to you, and what is the benefit of the sharing of the 2 most senior roles in your organisation?
It is so important, I’ve been working on this for a while and simply I can’t wait to get started. I think we need to give younger leaders proper opportunities to make decisions, to have power and this is our way of doing that.
How did the partnership with Guildhall School of Music & Drama come about? It would be great to hear more about The Big Boundless Show Prize as well?
We’ve been wanting to commission larger scale work and explore the idea of a youth culture epic for a while. We also want to do this in partnership and work with younger actors. So the partnership with Guildhall who are world renowned for their high quality training for actors and other theatre makers was an easy partnership to build. I think the more collaborative we are with commissioning and developing new theatre the better.
How do you feel about current Theatre productions in general and its accessibility to young audiences?
I think there are real challenges and not just because of ticket prices but there’s also such amazing work for 15-25 year olds to see. I think we need to have a serious conversation across the industry about access. Everything from time of performance, duration, price, representation, marketing and then physical access, transport and food/drink offers needs to be on the table. Young people are craving live experiences, highly culturally engaged and sophisticated – its our job to make it easier for them to engage.
Where do you hope to see the Theatre for young audiences in the next 5 years?
I’d love to see teenagers booking their own tickets for shows, independently and turning up with their mates in the same way that going to see a film or a gig is a. social experience.
If you were to describe Boundless Theatre in one short sentence - What would that be?
We make theatre, design projects and experiences to connect a boundless generation to sociable, shareable culture.
Boundless aim to cultivate dialogue with a vibrant and diverse youth culture, and believe that by investing in and being inspired by early career artists they can promote conversation with a global community of 15-25-year-olds.
Having conducted research in 2019 and spending three years co-creating solutions to identified challenges young adults face accessing cultural spaces, creative activities and employment, Boundless has arrived at a wide ranging co-creation to co-leadership strategy. With more inclusive, equitable opportunities for young adults to lead at Boundless, the company hopes to inspire others to welcome young people to the table and make decisions.
For all information on all of the new boundless initiatives. https://boundlesstheatre.org.uk/